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WSU students frustrated with tuition hike despite online-only courses

The university will increase costs by 2.5 percent, but because of COVID-19 will provide no in-person instruction.

On Thursday, Washington State University announced instruction for the fall semester will be conducted exclusively online, with extremely limited exceptions. Most students are being asked not to return to campus.

Following the announcement, many students responded positively to the health and safety aspects of the move.

"It's a disappointing decision because it's my senior year, but it's totally understandable and I think it's probably the safest decision all things considered," said student Siobhan Cassidy.

But the school has not announced any intentions to reduce tuition and fees. In fact, less than a month ago the Board of Regents approved a 2.5 percent tuition hike. Being asked to pay more in return for a lesser education and experience did not sit well with everyone.

"I think that we should have a lower tuition or just lower fees in general," said senior Dominique Arce.

"I don't think it's fair at all to ask students to pay the same amount for online classes," said Cassidy. "When I'm paying for college, I'm paying for the education but I'm [also] paying for access to facilities, and just for the entire experience. For being able to be part of extracurricular activities and all the social events that college brings."

The various mandatory fees drew particular frustration, as the same buildings and services they pay for will not be accessible to most students.

"I think that's kind of pointless when some of us are not even going to be on campus, or we're not even going to be in the same town to do any of that stuff," said Arce.

On top of all that, students often struggle with remote learning.

"I mean it's a whole different experience. Classes are more difficult online," said Cassidy.

"It does suck to know that we aren't going to be there in person, we aren't getting the same education," said Arce. "I'm someone that has to learn in person or else I feel like I won't get my stuff done online."

During the cut-short spring semester, WSU allowed students having a hard time to convert their courses to pass-fail grading. For the fall semester, that policy will not be in place.

And while upperclassmen will largely have to bite the bullet, some incoming freshmen are exploring other options.

It's a tough choice for many families, including that of KREM meteorologist Michelle Bos. She and her daughter Brooke ultimately decided paying full WSU prices without the full WSU experience just didn't make sense.

"It didn't feel like there would be any point to go to a bigger university to try to get that college experience," said Brooke Bos. "I was just going to be sitting, stuck in my dorm, doing all my classes online and not really getting to explore any of the campus anyway."

So, she'll take her first year of classes at community college, and hope for the best next year.

"I can get all of my gen eds out of the way for... not as expensive," she said. "And then when I figure out really what I want to do I can pursue that and go full send and go for that entirely."

Classes start in Pullman on August 24th. Students who planned to stay in dorms can defer paying for it until the spring semeser, or receive refunds if they cancel by August 7.

The university is holding regular town hall meetings virtually to hear student concerns.